Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is claiming a sale of three million copies for yesterday’s launch issue of his new Sunday tabloid - a seventh day version of The Sun.
In a Twitter message, Murdoch declared: “Reports early, but new Sun edition sold 3m!” On Friday , he had said he would be “very happy” if the paper sold more than two million copies.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Sun reveals today that it will be selling at 50p this Saturday and Sunday. Industry insiders forecast that the 50p cover price of the Sunday edition will run until the end of this year.
The launch edition of the Sunday issue of The Scottish Sun claimed a “world exclusive” with a front-page splash that the referendum on Scottish independence will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014.
However, this exclusive was not substantiated in a signed piece by First Minister Alex Salmond in which he declared: “Scotland’s newest Sunday paper will be a fresh and vibrant addition in a nation that has an insatiable appetite for news.
“So enjoy the first-ever edition of Scotland’s newest Sunday newspaper. I look forward to returning to these pages in the weeks and months to come!”
No member of the Scottish Government was quoted in the story as confirming the referendum date. The nearest to it to come from an unnamed Scottish Government source that is quoted as saying: “This date is being lined up as the day when people will get the chance to vote for independence and equality for Scotland.”
Subsequently a Scottish Government spokesman was quoted by other sources as saying: "This date is of course a possibility, but we are in the process of a consultation on the independence referendum – which has already generated more than 2500 responses.”
The SNP's Treasury spokesman Stuart Hosie told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme: "The 18th of October is certainly in the autumn of 2014 and because it's a Saturday, not a Thursday, that's one of the area's the Scottish government are consulting on.
"But the key point is that the consultation isn't finished and I think it would be wrong for anyone to pre-empt the date that might be concluded from the consultation."
Although an editorial claimed the mooted date of October 18, 2014, will be ...”our [Scotland] most defining moment in three centuries”, the Sunday tabloid did not explicitly back independence but promised to be “at the heart of the debate over the next 965 days.”
Politics aside, the new Sunday tabloid was News International forecast, a seventh day edition of The Sun, albeit with a much larger pagination - a main section of 92 pages and a football insert of 28 pages. In total, there were 45 pages of sport. There was added value in the 64-page glossy magazine – Fabulous.
There was a high count on the claimed “exclusives” front with 18 in news and features and four in the sports pages.
On the columnist front, there were new Scottish faces with high-profile lawyer Paul McBride and BBC Scotland newsreader, Catriona Shearer. Her colleague, Jackie Bird, writes for the Sunday Mail.
McBride made an interesting contribution on the story of how former Celtic FC player and cancer recovery victim, John Hartson, has been forced to close his Twitter account.
Points out McBride: “The vile sectarian abuse directed towards him and the people he was helping recover from cancer was shocking.
“The consolation is that, after March 1, the Offensive Behaviour Bill will deal with these morons and they can be sentenced to periods if imprisonment.
“If you can’t say it to someone in the street, then don’t tweet it.”
Shearer, paying tribute to killed Sunday Times journalist, Marie Colvin, declared: “This week, journalism for me isn’t about my stories, my outfit or the launch of a new Sunday newspaper – it’s about the power of information.”
The redtop will score in sports-addicted Scotland with its new sports columnists– footballing fraternity Richard Gough, Davie Provan and Steven Naismith, and Roy Keane, who, of course, had a short spell with Celtic FC, golfer Stephen Gallagher and rugby player, Richard Gray.
But it is unlikely Scots will get too worked up about by columnists Nancy Dell’Olio, Heston Blumenthal, and Katie Price.
The prominent Scots who were featured as welcoming the new paper, included Sir Brian Souter, Susan Boyle, Alex Norton, The Krankies, Michelle Mone and Shereen Nanjiani.
The News of the World was selling 210,000 copies a week in Scotland before it was shut down.
The Sunday Mail is Scotland’s top-selling newspaper with a sale of around 358,000.